EDS was named by the NHS Information Authority this week as the new preferred supplier for the NHS national e-mail service.

The IT services multinational, which also handles substantial projects for the Inland Revenue and the Department for Work and Pensions and other government departments, was chosen ahead of Syntegra, the networking arm of British Telecom.

The NHSIA’s head of accces to information, Carrie Armitage said in the authority’s newsletter, Inform, that the EDS bid appeared to offer the best value for money for the NHS. “We will be traversing the various business case approvals over the next month,” she said.

Subject to contracts being approved, EDS will provide all NHS staff in England with a personal mailbox and access to e-mail from their workplace or other locations, including home.

The service will also include a national directory of contact information for everyone working in the NHS in England and online calendars. A useful benefit of the new service will be the e-mail “for life” for staff in England who currently have to change their e-mail addresses if they move from one NHS organisation to another.

Ms Armitage said, “National e-mail will make collaborative working much easier as users will be able to create virtual communities and support initiatives such as cancer networks and national service frameworks. It will also help people who are mobile and those who work several different locations.”

The national e-mail service is a key part of the modernisation of NHS infrastructure needed to implement the NHS Plan. The Department of Health has set a target for every NHS staff member to have access to e-mail by March 2003.

Financial details of the deal have not been disclosed as contracts have not yet been finalised but the NHSIA says that the combined corporate e-mail and directory service will be one of the largest of its kind in the world.